Thursday, December 28, 2006

Cathedral 'must be open to Muslim prayers’

There is a most interesting article in today’s Guardian in which it is reported that Spanish Muslims have demanded that the Pope grant them permission to worship alongside Christians in Córdoba’s magnificent cathedral. It would be a further sign of his 'tolerance' of Islam, after the insult he gave in Regensburg.

Of course, this particular cathedral was once a mosque, only being converted in the 13th century, and one may therefore have sympathy with the Muslim demand that it (partially) revert to its former use. Yet the letter sent to the Pope, by the president of the Islamic Board of Spain, Mansur Escudero, is most curiously worded:

"We invite you to create a new example, to send a message of hope to the world. Do not fear. Together we can show the violent, the intolerant, the anti-semites, the Islam-phobes and also those who believe that only Islam has a right to remain in the world, that prayer is the strongest weapon imaginable."

It is curious because of its manifest ambiguity. A message of tolerance must be sent, but the Pope must send it. It must be sent to various ‘intolerant’ groups, and also to those ‘who believe that only Islam has the right to remain in the world’. What sort of message does it send to these? The Pope offends us, we riot and murder, the Pope apologises. We demand the right to pray in a cathedral, the Pope acquiesces. At the very least, Islam perceives the symbolic leader of the world’s Christians to be subject to its demands, and most compliant in the face of threats.

And what sort of prayers would be offered in this cathedral-mosque? The letter states quite clearly that they are ‘inspired by the optimism caused by the image of Your Holiness in the Blue Mosque saying a prayer shoulder to shoulder in Islamic style’. So there you have it. It is the Christians who will be expected to adapt their mode of worship to the ‘Islamic style’. It would not be too long before the Bible was replaced with the Qur'an, Jesus became Isa, and there was no mention of his divinity 'for fear of causing offence'.

They do, however, graciously confirm that they ‘do not intend to take control of the building or recover a nostalgic Al Andalus’ (the Islamic term for most of modern Spain), but rather they seek to restore the ‘spirit of Al Andalus’. And what is this ‘spirit’? It is the spirit of the dar-al-Islam; the spirit of Islamic religio-political supremacy; of territorial ownership; the spirit of total submission to Allah and his prophet Mohammed. One may quite rationally fear this ‘spirit’, which is not only intolerant of other religious practices; it is antithetical to the Enlightenment principles of Western civilisation.

Cranmer understands the letter is in the Pope’s in-tray. An outright rejection risks causing great offence, as seems to be very easily taken, and innocent nuns may once again be slaughtered by the barbaric masses. So Cranmer suggests a polite reminder to Spain’s Muslims that this site in Córdoba was, in fact, a church before it was a mosque, which the invading Moors destroyed in order to assert their political supremacy. Or how about a quid pro quo? We’ll give you back Córdoba’s mosque, if you give us back Istanbul’s 6th-century Byzantine Hagia Sophia Church, which was converted into a mosque when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453.

Deal or No Deal?


Blogger Sir Henry Morgan said...

Your Grace:

Pigeons is a word that springs to mind at your suggestion. Cats is another.

28 December 2006 at 10:58  
Blogger Bishop Hill said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

28 December 2006 at 11:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your answer is best. The world is not yet ready for the theological exigenicies that would erupt from trying to merge Church and Mosque.

28 December 2006 at 11:51  
Anonymous Voyager said...

It is quite simple. They must repent of their Sins and sin no more...........and seek to become good Roman Catholics. It is so simple that it makes one wonder about the intellectual level of Muslims that they cannot see that a Crucifix is an impediment to those who do not accept Christ.

28 December 2006 at 12:07  
Anonymous The jabberwock said...

Having read David Pawson's book The Challenge of Islam to Christians
( )
it is clear to me that Yahweh and Allah are emphatically not the same.

It would therefore be no more appropriate for Catholics to allow Muslims to pray in Cordoba Cathedral than to allow Satanists to conduct a ritual sacrifice or Spiritualists to conduct a séance.

See 2 Corinthians 6:14-16:
'14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."'

28 December 2006 at 12:38  
Blogger Croydonian said...

And were this idea to catch on, I look forward to the Al Aqsa mosque also functioning as a shul.

28 December 2006 at 16:49  
Anonymous Voyager said...

the Al Aqsa mosque.................oh that's one of those illegal settlements they keep going on about

28 December 2006 at 17:41  
Blogger Croydonian said...

Voyager - indeed. Although it would appear that rabbinical opinion is divided as to whether observant Jews should or not tread on the Temple Mount before the arrival of the Moshiach.

28 December 2006 at 18:33  
Blogger Rigger Mortice said...

forgive my lack of decency but the Pope should tell them ........

28 December 2006 at 19:45  
Blogger Rigger Mortice said...

the pope could always insist they do Communion first

28 December 2006 at 19:46  
Anonymous peter hitchens said...

The day your grace can visit mecca and hand out bibles to all the toga wearing barbarians is the day christians may consider having to share their cathedrals with them.

28 December 2006 at 20:35  
Anonymous Chris H said...

Perhaps at the same time Christians could be allowed to worship in the Hagia Sophia in Instanbul. After all, the Hagia Sophia was originally a church.

28 December 2006 at 20:36  
Blogger 3 lions said...

Can the jews pray in the dome of the rock, after all it is built on the site of the second temple? Hey its only fair.

28 December 2006 at 23:03  
Anonymous Colin said...

"But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." Luke 6:27-35

"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:43-48

28 December 2006 at 23:41  
Anonymous Voyager said...

made up mainly of Spanish Catholics who converted to Islam

It seems only reasonable to permit Muslims who have converted to Christianity, particularly Roman Catholicism, to pray at this cathedral.

29 December 2006 at 08:06  
Anonymous lilith said...

I love these Spanish insults I found in an 1847 travel handbook...To describe someone as ugly suggest they have "la cara de hereja" or to say that somthing stinks of treachery: "Hay Moros en la costa"

29 December 2006 at 11:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of which false religionist,Romanist or Mohammedan, offers up prayer,in Cordoba cathedral the Lord will not hearken to their supplications.

Seeking the truth? Contact the Evangelists

30 December 2006 at 09:01  
Anonymous david aberdeen said...

Juan José Asenjo, Catholic Bishp of Córdoba, has already said no.

30 December 2006 at 13:14  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

I think your point is well made. The Islamic world is trying to exploit the wests weakness. We come to terms with them at our peril.

31 December 2006 at 10:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before being a mosque and the muslim invasion, the place was occupied by a visigothic church....
I tell the history of this place on my blog :

I am sorry for my english

5 January 2007 at 08:14  
Blogger S. Strauch said...

I thought that the Sofia Mosque had already been given back? I may be wrong, please correct me if I am. I notice that you boast of Peter Hitchens' praise for your blog. I'm not sure I would. He argued with me (I have been translating classical Arabic texts for many years) that there is no evidence that Muslim women should wear a hijab. Apparently he thinks that reading an English translation of the Qur`an makes him an authority. He is also on record as declaring that dyslexia does not exist and that it is an excuse made by parents of stupid children. The man is a buffoon!

25 February 2008 at 13:53  
Blogger S. Strauch said...

Wow! I've just read some of the comments made by Christians. You really are a sweet bunch. Jesus would be proud. I wonder if the Daily Mail readers know about Peter Hitchens' comments about "toga-wearing barbarians"? This is the man who told me that he has many Muslim friends. I bet they don't know he thinks they are barbarians. Didn't I tell you he is a buffoon? What kind of idiotic comparison is that? Was the Mosque at Mecca formerly a church?

25 February 2008 at 14:02  

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